What Is Creativity?

I can follow a published weaving draft to the letter and expect to get the prescribed results. Or, I can change details and make the project reflect my own ideas. That’s creativity. And that’s why each handwoven piece reveals something about the one who made it.

Two-block broken twill on 8 shafts. Lovely linen!
Two-block broken twill on eight shafts. I like the natural variations in the linen thread.

With every given draft, I determine the width and length for the project I want to weave, and make adjustments accordingly. That may mean adapting the threading sequence to fit. Sometimes I choose a different size of thread. In that case, I change the sett, as needed. Treadling variations also come into play as the fabric takes shape according to my preferences. I almost always choose my own colors. It’s in the colors that I find the most enjoyment of letting my creativity flow. What is your favorite element for creative expression?

Weaving a linen table runner.
Linne, draft by Joanne Hall. The only adjustments I am making are some treadling variations at the start and end of the runner, and the color selection.
Eight-shaft 2-block twill.
Beginning of the runner is wrapping around the slender cloth beam of the Julia.

Creative ability is meant to be an expression of wisdom. Wisdom is a combination of things—experience, intellect, understanding—all put into practice. What you create makes your inmost contemplations visible. Each individual’s creativity is a small example that points to the most astounding example of all. Our Creator reveals his supreme wisdom in every facet of his creation. And you are a prime example of his wise attention to detail.

May your creativity blossom.

Happy Weaving,
Karen

Handweaving Dilemma

I am making great progress on my drawloom rag rug, closing in on the final segment. And then, I take a picture and the camera reveals something I had failed to see. A mistake! Here is the dilemma that I’m sure other weavers face, too. It’s an internal dialogue. I can live with the error. Or, can I? No one will notice. Well, I certainly will notice. But I am sooo close to the end. I really don’t want to undo the last forty minutes of weaving. What would you do?

Drawloom rag rug.
Error in the rug escapes my notice.
Mistake in the weaving, exposed by taking a photo.
Photo reveals my mistake.

Back it up. Using the chart that I follow for pulling draw cords, unit by unit, I work my way back until I get to the error. On reflection, doing the task is easier than thinking about doing it.

Removing weft to fix an error.
Backing up.
Single-unit drawloom.
One single unit draw cord makes all the difference. This cord should have been drawn in the affected rows.
Rag weft is taken out to correct an error.
Undone. Weft is removed. The mistake has been taken out.
Drawloom rag rug. Correcting an error.
Ready to start fresh from here.

My feelings can fool me. I don’t feel like going back and correcting my mistake. This is the time to pause and listen. Wisdom is at the door. Wisdom requires thinking, and listening, and time. Time is my friend, if I refrain from hurry. Wisdom is much like the skill of an experienced craftsman—one who understands precision and artistic expression and do-overs. Wisdom knows that patience is powerful. The easiest way to do something often forfeits the greatest rewards.

May you keep your ear at wisdom’s door.

Peace,
Karen

When the Tapestry Gets Confusing

I work across the tapestry a row at a time, starting and stopping many wool butterflies. It gets confusing. It’s not always easy to see how the particular colors in my butterflies relate to the details of this lizard. I closely follow the cartoon and the pattern key by my loom. I have to trust the cartoon more than what I see at the moment.

Lizard tapestry on four shafts. Eye detail.
Lizard eye detail. There are many color changes in the rows that go right through the center of the eye.

Every now and then, I climb up on a step stool as far as I dare. The view from this distance gives me a realistic perspective of the weaving. And raises my hopes that the lizard in this tapestry will indeed resemble the green anole that had posed for my camera. I am unable to see that same progress when I’m sitting at the loom with the lizard’s face right in front of me.

Four-shaft Lizard tapestry. Karen Isenhower
Pattern key at the left of the loom provides constant direction for weaving the details in the tapestry. View from standing on the top step of the step stool.

Lizard tapestry in progress. Glimakra Ideal loom.
Enlarged photograph of the original green anole hangs on the cart next to the loom.

When life gets confusing, it’s time to step up. Treasures are hidden in plain sight. Wisdom and knowledge are hidden like that. The treasure storehouse is in Christ. In him we have a heavenly view that gives us a realistic perspective of what we see in front of us. Trust his pattern key, and proceed with confidence. It’s not so confusing, after all.

May you see hidden treasures.

With heart,
Karen

Short-Lived Weft Idea

Now is my chance. I’d like to try one more weft idea on this double weave warp. I ended the colorful throw, and have about fifty centimeters left for a lap blanket. After the red cutting line, I am testing some black cottolin weft. It isn’t in my original plan, nor in my sample, but I want to see how it looks.

Small test sample between double weave pieces.
Deep plum alternates with black weft in a small test sample. Pairs of red picks mark the cutting lines between pieces.

The black weft does brighten the warp colors. But that’s not the look I’m after. I would miss the mixed shades that occur as the warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft. So I am weaving the smaller piece with the same weft sequence as the larger throw. When I see the weft choices clearly, it’s not hard for me to decide which weft option to use.

Double weave throw wrapping around the cloth beam.
Following the fabric under the breast beam, behind the knee beam, and around the cloth beam. The four warp stripe colors are repeated in the weft, making slight variations of color in the squares.

Wisdom is a treasure. It comes from seeing things through heaven’s perspective. Beware of human ideas masquerading as wisdom, leading us in the wrong direction. The treasure of wisdom that is found in Christ leads to understanding. Looking through heaven’s wisdom, my choices become clear. And it’s not hard for me to decide to stay true to the Grand Weaver’s design.

May you walk in wisdom.

With you,
Karen

Small Tapestry Revived

This little tapestry has been almost finished for a very long time. I stopped short of completion months ago. I’ve missed my small tapestry weaving, so I’m back at it. Only a few steps remain with this one. Soon this little color gradation sweetheart will be on the wall, to be enjoyed.

Small tapestry with color gradation.
Last few picks of this small tapestry are woven in one sitting. Warp thread header and waste yarn are added.

Small tapestry with color gradation.
Small tapestry frame makes an interesting artwork frame. But this tapestry must be removed so another tapestry can begin.

The finishing steps are not difficult. (Rebecca Mezoff gives excellent instructions in Weaving Tapestry on Little Looms.) After the piece is removed from the loom, it is steamed. Then, weft tails are sewn in and/or trimmed on the back. Half Damascus knots secure the warp ends. The hems will be folded under and stitched down. Then, this little masterpiece will be ready for mounting and display.

Weft tails that will be sewn in and/or trimmed.
Tapestry was woven from the front, so all the weft tails are on the back.

Sewing in and trimming weft tails.
Weft tails have been sewn in and/or trimmed on the back of the weaving.

Finishing ends on a small tapestry.
Warp ends are secured with half damascus knots. Two-pound walking weight helps hold the little tapestry in place.

Here is an ancient description of an interesting woman, as told by another woman.

Strength and dignity are her clothing,
And she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth in wisdom,
And the teaching of kindness is on her tongue.
—from Solomon’s book of Proverbs

Small tapestry is ready to be hemmed.
Small tapestry with color gradation is ready to be hemmed. Ends will be folded under at the soumak lines, and stitched into place.

This is the type of woman I admire. Wear the best clothes that money can’t buy—strength and dignity. She has optimism. No anger. She speaks with wisdom and kindness. These are finishing touches I ask my Maker to work in me. To be a woman ready for what she was made for.

May you be finished.

Kindest regards,
Karen